Tallship Soren Larsen ~ 2003 Archive Voyage Logs

Here's Voyage Crew Mike Clubbe's words and pictures of the Vanuatu to New Caledonia 2003 voyage:

"Once I’d found my correct accommodation in Port Vila I decided I really liked the place. It had that really laid back feel that I’d experienced in the South Pacific last year. On Saturday I took a little time to explore the town and on Sunday did a couple of dives on some wrecks in the harbour but they weren’t very eventful.

Then on Monday morning it was time to board the ship. Monday in Vanuatu was a public holiday for constitution day and as I walked through the town, the president appeared to be addressing the nation.

The President addresses the Nation

Then I met up with everyone else from the voyage and we set about loading us and our luggage onto the boat. It was quite a mixed bunch of people, mainly from the UK but a couple from Ireland, a couple from Holland and a couple from the USA – everyone seemed very friendly though.

The first day we just headed out to an island about five miles from Port Vila and set anchor for the night – two of the crew were quite ill so we couldn’t sail too far as we were still waiting to find out what was wrong with them. It turned out to be a mild form of Malaria which some drugs rapidly put right over the next few days. In the meantime we snorkelled in the bay with some very pretty tropical fish and generally lazed around on deck getting used to the boat and the idea of living on water. However, none of this really prepared us for what was to come the next day when we finally set sail from Port Vila. We were heading for another of the islands of Vanuatu, Tanna which lies to the South of the chain of islands. Unfortunately we didn’t have the wind behind us so this part of the journey was to be done mostly with the ship’s engine into the waves with a couple of the sails up to steady the boat against the swell. The entire crew (including those of us on holiday, the voyage crew) were divided into 3 groups to cover the different watches. On group covered 12 till 4, another 4 till 8 and the third 8 till 12. I was on 12 till 4 which meant midday till 4 pm and then midnight till 4am. The journey from Port Vila to Vanuatu was to take us about 48 hours so there was always a watch on ‘duty’ throughout. This meant taking turns at helping to raise the sails or to pull them one way or another or steering the boat or various other duties to help with the smooth running of the boat. I even made the bread one night for the next day.

And they let me in charge of this thing???

Sorting out the sails

As we set off in the sunshine everything seemed fine then as we hit the open sea heading into the swell most of the voyage crew started drifting towards the back of the boat. In fact, after a few hours, most of the voyage crew seemed to be hanging over the back of the boat throwing up and everyone began to question whether this was really a holiday! The journey was rough even though the seas didn’t seem that rough and I think everyone struggled to find their sea legs. By the end of the second day though nearly everyone was feeling much better and things seemed to be going much better. As we pulled into Port Resolution on Tanna island there was a humpback whale breaching out of the water and putting on an impressive display for us. We anchored and headed shorewards where everyone was glad to have their feet on solid ground again!

Crashing into the waves

At anchor in Port Resolution, Tanna, Vanuatu

Local village, Port Resolution, Tanna island, Vanuatu


Walking down to the beach, Tanna Island, Vanuatu

That evening and again the next day we took a look around the local village, sat around on the local beach and then in the afternoon we took a trip up to the island’s active volcano, Mount Yasur via a traditional Vanuatu village. In the village, the local tribe did some traditional dances for us – it was pretty cool to watch but I’m sure the girls enjoyed it much as the guys in the tribe didn’t exactly wear very much!

Kastom Dancing, Tanna, Vanuatu

After the dancing we got back into the 4 wheel drives and continued up the volcano. I’ve been up several active volcanoes in the past but nothing quite prepared me for this one! When they say active they really mean it – when we where there, there were 3 vents in the crater that were busy throwing lava around. It was like an enormous firework display and just as you were getting settled, suddenly there would be an enormous bang and a big shower of lava.

Mt Yasur


Fireworks on Mt Yasur

The next morning we were getting ready to set sail for New Caledonia while the locals were busy fishing in the bay in their outrigger canoes. One came up to our boat and offered us some fish – so the cook traded 30 fish for a big bag of flour and some cans of butter and we had fresh fish for dinner.

Looks like we're having fish for dinner!

Then we set sail and finally we really did set sail. The wind was behind us and so after going through the complicated procedure of pulling various ropes, all the sails were up and the motor was turned off as we headed south. The ship moved so much more gracefully with the sails and the wind behind us compared heading into the swell with the engine. Now everyone had found their sea legs it was a really enjoyable voyage. With a speed averaging around 5 knots it was going to take us another 2 days to reach New Caledonia. Unfortunately the wind died on the second day so we had to put the engine on again – that’s the problem with having to keep a schedule! Some dolphins came and played in the bow-wave and everyone relaxed as the ship glided through the water.

Setting the sails - teamwork is everything!

Finally under sail

Once we were in New Caledonia we had to go to Noumea to clear customs and immigration before heading out for a few days sailing round the lagoon. We visited a couple of small islands including the Amedee Lighthouse – a lighthouse built in Paris and shipped out by the French. Then finally it was time to return to Noumea this morning and time for us all to disembark and move on either back home or in my case, back to Vanuatu tomorrow to have a bit more of a look around!"


La Phare Amedee - Amedee Lighthouse!

See more of Mike's pictures - including some amazing shots of Mt Yasur at

Soren Larsen Internet Diary:- http://www.clubbe.co.uk/rtwtrip2/soren.htm

Main website:- http://www.clubbe.co.uk
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